The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part VI: Poor Frank’s Agony

The Adventures of Poor Frank, Part VI: Poor Frank’s Agony
By Ray Adams

Just the other night at the local bridge club, Poor Frank and Lucky Archie were once again fighting for first place. It all came down to this fateful hand:

Dealer: East                            North                                       East     South     West     North
Vulnerable: EW                  ♠ K107                                         Pass        1        Pass       2NT
                                                ♥ KQ32                                        Pass       3♣        Pass        3
                                                AQ74                                         Pass       4♦         Pass       4♠
                                                ♣ 87                                             Pass       6♥         All pass.
                                    West (Poor Frank) East
                                    ♠ A8643                ♠ QJ
                                   8                          1076
                                    1093                    ♦J82
                                    ♣ QJ104                 ♣ K9652
                                                South (Lucky Archie)
                                                ♠ 952
                                                ♣ A3

   The bidding requires some explanation. 2NT was a forcing raise in hearts, showing 4 hearts and an opening hand. 3♣ supposedly showed shortness in clubs, although this was usually one or none. Perhaps Lucky Archie had a club mixed in with a spade. 3D, 4D, and 4S were all explained as cuebids, and somehow the pair arrived in this unlikely slam.

Poor Frank led the ♣Q and declarer won his ace, then drew trumps in three rounds. Next came three rounds of diamonds, Lucky Archie smirking unpleasantly when the suit divided 3-3. He then tossed his little club on dummy’s last diamond.

Declarer ruffed a club and led a spade towards dummy. Poor Frank ducked hopefully, but Lucky Archie went right up with the king. When this held and East played the jack, the lucky one led a small spade to East’s queen. Poor Frank was fixed. If he overtook with the ace, dummy’s ten of spades would be the slam-going trick. Therefore, he was forced to duck, but East fared no better. He had to lead a club, giving Lucky Archie a ruff and a sluff and this improbable slam contract.

Poor Frank was in agony. To make this slam, Lucky Archie had needed to find diamonds 3-3, West with the ♠A and East with the queen/jack doubleton in spades. This made the slam about a one in fifty chance or perhaps even less. Poor Frank was quick to complain of this to anyone who would listen as the players left the club, but most of them were too busy congratulating Lucky Archie to even notice Poor Frank’s agony.

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